COP26 chief: Leaders must do more to honour climate promises | Sunday Observer

COP26 chief: Leaders must do more to honour climate promises

22 May, 2022

Global leaders have not done enough to honour commitments made at the COP26 climate summit, its president has said.

Alok Sharma said more must be done to hit the targets agreed in Glasgow, warning that failure would be “an act of monstrous self-harm”.

Six months on from the event, he said countries needed to “up the pace” in the push towards carbon-neutral energy.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also issued a warning over climate change, during a trip to the US.

She said that a failure to hit targets agreed at COP26 would be “catastrophic” for the planet.

Sharma, a Minister in the UK Government’s Cabinet Office, was in Glasgow to mark six months from last year’s UN conference.

He said it was understandable that climate change was no longer on the front pages, amid the war in Ukraine and the cost-of-living crisis.

But he said these issues “should increase, not diminish, our determination to deliver on what the world agreed in Glasgow”.

The summit was aimed at hammering out agreements that would hold average global temperature rises under 1.5C.

However, scientists warn that there is a 6-10 percent chance of meeting this threshold, and that even if pledges are fully delivered the temperature rise will be closer to 2C.

Sharma said “the window of time we have left to act is closing fast”, with climate change “already wreaking havoc”.

He said: “Progress is of course welcome, but frankly we need to up the pace. Leaders have not done enough to deliver on their Glasgow commitments, and that must change.

“We need every nation to pick up the pace. We need every leader to show that their words were not hollow, that their commitments were made with integrity, and that they recognise that though the immediate challenges we face are grave, we will only inflame them if we falter.

“It is leaders who made promises, it is leaders who must honour them.”

It isn’t surprising Alok Sharma is worried about the world honouring the climate promises made in Glasgow in November.

Food, energy and finance costs are soaring around the world.

Sri Lanka and Peru have already seen protests prompted by rising fuel, fertilizer and food costs.

A United Nations insider told me last week it has a watch list of 35 other countries it fears are also on the verge of widespread unrest, even uprisings.

The worry is climate promises will be put on the backburner while leaders deal with more immediate crises.

Many countries which had made net zero pledges are now considering licensing new oil and gas projects - including the UK.

At the same time, oil and gas companies are enjoying bumper profits. It has put paid - at least in the short run - to the idea that tumbling renewable energy prices would see the returns on fossil fuel investments collapse.

Sharma’s message today was that these headwinds must not derail the Glasgow Pact.

Leaders have to honour their commitments and show, he said, that the international system is still taking the world towards “a cleaner, safer and more prosperous future.”

Sharma told BBC Scotland that in the final moments of the Glasgow talks “I genuinely thought there was a point where we weren’t going to get a deal”.

He said “we have to be hopeful” that global temperature rises can be held down, while warning that “we need to act now”.

Sturgeon also highlighted her fears about the climate emergency when she addressed the Brookings Institute in Washington DC.

She said: “Six months on from COP26, the world looks very different, but many of the challenges we faced then remain.

“As things stand, the world is on course to exceed both 1.5C of global warming and the 2C threshold - and scientific consensus is overwhelming that this will be catastrophic.

“We need to move at pace to develop clean energy sources and act in a way which shows solidarity with communities in our countries who might otherwise get left behind, and with the global south.” -BBC